Travel made in August 2019
Duration: 5 days
Welcome to Porto !!
A small porto for an aperitif? Welcome to Myoxybubble Porto! Come and discover this emblematic city of Portugal that gave its name to the prestigious and delicious Portuguese wine from the Douro Valley, a wine region. The cellars of this precious wine are hidden and can be visited on the side of Villa Nova de Gaia. On the other side of the bank of the Douro, you will enjoy the emblematic historic district of porto. The north of Portugal also offers beautiful walks around Porto. I guarantee you a nice Portuguese getaway filled with charm with the discovery of cities like Braga, Guimarães, Coimbra or the national forest of Buçaco and many others.
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Porto, the Douro Valley and its surroundings!
Day 1: Along the river
# Ribeira district in Porto
Immerse yourself in the heart of Porto in the famous medieval ribeira district. Walk along the quays of the Douro and admire the magnificent and mythical Dom Luis bridge !
Doesn’t its architecture remind you of the iconic Iron Lady in Paris?
It was built on the plans of the famous Gustave Eiffel!
The area is very lively with many traditional restaurants and very colorful alleys typical of the city such as Da Ribeira Square.
It is good to walk there especially in the evening! Do not hesitate to sit on the terrace to drink a port and taste some culinary specialties such as a Francesinha !
As a Frenchwoman, I could not miss this traditional dish called in French the “little French lady”! It is a very caloric croque monsieur that is bathed in a sauce and is composed of a lot of cheese, meat and a fried egg. Enjoy your meal! We tasted it at the Ribeira Square restaurant, the same name as the square. For my part, I shared it with my husband.
# Discovery of the Douro by boat
For a gentle digestion, I propose you to embark on a boat for a mini cruise on the Douro River. I advise you to book your excursion the day before for the next day even if I was able to board directly without prior reservation. The pier is located along the quays of the Ribeira just before the Dom Luis bridge. It’s up to you to choose the duration of your excursion.
During your getaway, you will pass under the six pretty bridges that connect Porto to Villa Nova de Gaia located on the other bank of the Douro. You will sail on the Douro River that the merchants of Porto used to use.
The wine barrels were transported from the Douro Valley to Villa Nova de Gaia by the traditional boats called “Rabelos“.
This very romantic excursion is a must during your stay in Porto. I promise you a very enriching moment in addition to being pleasant. I recommend!
# The Villa Nova district of Gaia
On your return, I advise you to go to the Dom Louis bridge and take the stairs to cross it.
The lower part of the bridge is an access reserved exclusively for cars, while the heights allow the crossing of the tramway and also has a pedestrian crossing. Once you cross the bridge, welcome to Villa Nova de Gaia! The panorama of the river, the Ribeira quays, villa Nova de Gaia and Porto is breathtaking!
Take the opportunity to make a stop at the Morro Garden. The place is well maintained, shaded and invites to picnic and rest.
# Visit of the Ferreira winery
Continue your exploration on the Villa Nova de Gaia side by descending on the docks on foot or by cable car for the most tired. The return will be done in the same way. All along the quays, port wine cellars follow one another.
Be careful, bring good sneakers if you go there on foot. Do not hesitate to get lost in some alleys along the way because you will discover Street Art!
It is difficult to choose which winery to visit because the choices are numerous. We recommend visiting the Ferreira family winery. You will admire barrels of different sizes. It’s very impressive!
The guided tour is definitely worth a visit! We chose the formula with tasting of 3 wines for 15 €. The glasses were generous! The cellar is huge and very beautiful.
Better to be foresighted and book before! Personally, we once again arrived unexpectedly. Count 1 hour of visit. The explanations are clear and interesting. They will explain the fermentation process of the wines. Each wine has very different characteristics such as color, smells and flavors depending on their age. The difference between Tawny and Ruby wine will be explained to you during your guided tour. FYI, the most expensive vintage Port is over 5000€ per bottle. I highly recommend this tour!
At the end of the day, retrace your steps and cross again the very majestic and magnificent Dom Luis Bridge. Take the stairs called Escalas do Codeçal that will lead you to the esplanade of the Sé Cathedral in Porto.
It dominates the city and offers magnificent views of Porto and the Douro. The architecture of the cathedral is very beautiful with its azulejos, gold and stone ornaments. The cloister is superb!
Day 2: Historic Porto
# The Baixa district and its historic center
Go to the pretty Freedom Square where the town hall stands. The building is majestic and at the height of the city of Porto. Don’t forget to immortalize this moment with a small souvenir photo with the giant letters PORTO!
Then, head to the imposing Church of the Clerics, an unmissable monument in Porto’s historic old town. You can not miss it with its high bell tower visible from different places in the city! Possibility to climb to the top of the tower which offers a complete panorama of the city.
Continue your tour to the magnificent fountain of the lions composed of bronze and granite located Praça de Gomes Teixeira. The square is beautiful with its beautiful monuments in the vicinity such as the Igreja do Carmo church decorated with azulejos.
The ride is really nice! I strongly advise to open your eyes wide and appreciate this must-see district of Porto and its rich baroque architecture. Do not hesitate to go to the Lello bookstore !
# The unmissable Lello bookstore
The Lello bookstore is one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world! The entrance fee is 5€/person. At the checkout, you will get a €5 discount voucher that will be deductible on the purchase of a book. Be careful, the purchase of your entrance ticket is to the left of the bookseller around the corner.
Unfortunately, the place is very touristy but I guarantee you that it is definitely worth a look. Go early in the morning before opening to avoid a long queue. The central staircase with double convolution, the woodwork, the books and the stained glass windows with ceilings are magnificent.
You will be immersed in the world of Harry Potter. Indeed, J. K; Rowling, the author of the saga, lived in Porto and this staircase would have inspired her in the description of her book.
The beauty of the place is magical despite the world that circulates there.
# Sao Bento Station and its surroundings
A little trip back in time? Do not hesitate to enter the beautiful and large passenger hall of the Sao Bento station located in the center of Porto.
It is covered with beautiful azulejos earthenware by the painter Jorge Colaço (1864-1942), which retraces the moments of the country’s history. A free visit inevitable when you come to Porto.
A small café? I recommend the Majestic café ! It is a few blocks from Porto train station. This is the historic and unmissable café of Porto! The interior setting is majestic and invites you to sit back and relax.
Once again, you will be transported to another era for a coffee, a homemade chocolate and a pastry. The servers are all uniform. The place is chic and luxurious. The decoration is period, interior and exterior, with woodwork, leather seats and mirrors. We recommend a good hot chocolate accompanied by a Pasteis de Nata. I promise you a gourmet moment full of history.
Is your coffee break over? Return to Sao Bento Station and head towards Rua de Flores ! It is located opposite the train station. Very easy to find. It is an old street of goldsmiths and jewelers of Porto with the pretty name of street of flowers. This street goes down to the Quai du Douro. This is the prettiest pedestrian street in Baixa!
It is touristic and commercial. It is pleasant to walk through it while admiring its architecture.
# The garden of the crystal palace
At the end of the day, I invite you to spend a romantic moment in the gardens of the Crystal Palace in Porto! Certainly it is a little far from the historic center, but definitely worth a visit. Take the time to survey it and discover it. It is full of small corner worthy of a fairy tale. I thought I was a rapunzel at the top of this very cute little dungeon!
The view of the Douro and the docks is stunning and the sunset magnificent! During your walk you will also come across peacocks, ducks and pretty bodies of water. Do not hesitate to go with your children!
Day 3: On the roads of the Douro Valley!
On the way for a short trip of 3h30 in the Douro Valley. You will love crisscrossing and admiring the vineyard. Do not hesitate to take a break to discover the magnificent vineyards and its bunches of grapes.
# Pinhao Station
Your wine route route will start in Peso da Rega, portugal’s wine and vineyard capital, all the way to Pinhao train station.
Open your eyes! This vintage train station is worth a look. It is decorated with many azuléjos retracing the life of the winegrowers and the harvest.
The village will immerse you in the true and authentic Douro and all its local traditions.
# The Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora dos Remédios
Do not hesitate to push your itinerary to the city of Lamego to discover the majestic Santuário de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios. The place is just splendid and the city very welcoming with many restaurants and bars.
Bring good sneakers for the ascent of the sanctuary because there are almost 700 steps! The multi-level staircases are adorned with many azulejos and sculptures.
You will appreciate the drinking water fountains that allow you to cool off. Don’t forget your bottle of water! The forecourt offers a magnificent view of the city of Lamego and the mountains of the valley very wooded. The place is really nice and sumptuous. A huge car park is at your disposal to park your vehicle.
The place will remind you of the Bom Jesus in Braga (see below). Not to be missed!
Day 4: Idleness on the coast
# Praia de Costa nova
Today, I propose you to see life all in color! Head to Praia de Costa Nova ! I guarantee you a change of scenery between the sand dunes, the sea and the typical colorful houses of fishermen. Wooden houses have the particularity of succeeding each other. Their façade is painted with vertical or horizontal stripes of all colors ranging from blue to green or purple, yellow, red or orange.
These paintings allowed fishermen to locate their home from the sea and dock as close as possible to their home. The village has a lot of charm. Remember to take your swimsuit and give yourself a dip, a session of idleness or sunbathing on the vast and beautiful sandy beach. The crossing through the dunes to get to the beach is done on wooden walkways.
Footbridges run along the entire beach. Ideal for people with reduced mobility. The walk is more than pleasant. Peaceful and rejuvenating place!
# Aveiro, little Venice
Located just a few kilometers from Praia de Costa Nova, the passage through Aveiro is essential! It is the little Portuguese Venice par excellence. The sea has receded and given way to the Ria de Aveiro lagoon and its network of canals. Possibility to take a very colorful gondola ride called “Moliceiro” with the family to visit the city.
You will pass under Venetian bridges. The place is 13 € per adult and half price for children. It is a tourist attraction of 45min! But it’s not worth the romantic gondola ride of Venice. Personally, the walk cost me less and was just as exotic and pleasant. It’s up to you…
The pedestrian city centre has many bars, restaurants and shops. I enjoyed tasting some culinary specialties of Aveiro like Los Ovos Moles meaning in English soft eggs. Stop at the oldest confectionery in the city (since 1856) Confeitaria Peixinho !
You won’t regret it! The confectionery is fine and excellent. The setting is also exceptional with a refined decoration. Possibility to take your Ovos moles and other confectionery to take away. I wish you a beautiful discovery of Aveiro and especially a good tasting!
# In Wonderland at the Palace of Buçaco!
Need oxygen? Shade and greenery? Take a breath of fresh air in the heart of the green tropical forest of Buçaco ! The place is stunningly beautiful with its century-old trees. You will discover the beauty of the place as soon as you arrive with a sumptuous and unusual luxury hotel surrounded by its park, its outdoor gardens and the lush forest that surrounds it.
Possibility to take a table in this princess setting to eat or just have a drink. Bring the park map. Hop, let’s go for a short hike. We advise you to go to Cruz Alta.
The hike is magical and worthy of a fairy count. The walk takes about 30 minutes and climbs a little. Several chapels follow one another on your way with the representation of Jesus. Arrival in Cruz Alta, the view is beautiful and wonderful! You will overlook the forest and hills of Buçaco.
# Coimbra, the oldest university campus in Europe!
Coimbra is located 50km from Aveiro. Welcome to The Sorbonne of Portugal! As soon as you arrive, you will cross the iron gate and enter the splendid forecourt of the university. You will admire the architecture of the buildings and its immaculate white.
His visit is steeped in history. It is composed of the famous and magnificent Joanina Library, its former prison in the basement of the former royal palace, La Chapelle St Miguel, its tower and its botanical garden. I promise you a dive into the famous Harry Potter series at the school of wizards! It’s all there!Students are dressed in a traditional uniform and have a black cape. Impressive!
The places are magical, including the Joanina library with its carved wooden architecture. It is rich in manuscripts and ancient books. The décor is exceptional. Prohibition to take pictures in the main enclosure of the library. I got scolded!
I advise you to take the group ticket at 12 € / person to visit the library and La Chapelle. The latter will offer you a magnificent view of Coimbra. We arrived at the end of the day and were able to visit the library narrowly. I advise you not to go there at the last minute to be sure to make the most of it.
As for the botanical gardens, the visit is free. The gardens are a haven of peace. The bamboo forest is exotic, exotic and refreshing!
You will enjoy strolling and observing the fountains, flowers and medicinal plants and century-old trees. The garden was created to complement the medical study of the adjoining University of Coimbra.
Day 5: On the way to Braga and Guimaraes!
# Braga and the Sanctuary Bom Jesus do Monte
Located about forty kilometers from Porto, do not miss the magnificent sanctuary Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga. The site is a symbolic pilgrimage site located on a hill. The place is peaceful, sumptuous and unique. The visit is free. Plan 1 € symbolic for the parking and good sneakers for the ascent of more than 600 steps. The climb is a Way of the Cross called “Via Sacra”. The immaculate white staircase rises in zig zag and intersects. On your way, you will admire many statues. The path is largely in the shade. Reaching the basilica at the top is deserved! At the top the award is exceptional with a view of the city of Braga, the basilica, fountains and a flowery park. It can be reached on foot, by car or by funicular. I absolutely recommend this visit!
# The medieval city of Guimarães
From Braga, plan to make a combo in the day with a stop at the village of Guimarães. It takes 30 minutes to drive from Braga. The castle and the history of Portugal is exciting.
This castle is one of the 7 wonders of Portugal (along with the Castle of Óbidos, the Monastery of Alcobaça, the Monastery of Batalha, the Monastery of the Hieronymites, the National Palace of Pena and the Tower of Belém). It is a medieval castle where lived the 1st king of Portugal. This castle is well preserved and its visit is pleasant.
If you want to discover even more activities and places to visit in Porto, we invite you to click on the banner below:
And that’s it, it’s the end of our discovery of Porto and its surroundings. But this was not the end of the trip for us, because it was only one stage in our road trip that will take us to Seville via Lisbon !
I hope you have made a pleasant trip with me and I tell you very soon for a next MyOxyBubble destination !
Feel free to leave your comments on this article and share your own experiences (the form can be found a little further down).
Need advice to organize your trip? Contact me!
Doing a road trip from the France, we used our own vehicle.
Otherwise car rental at the airport is also an alternative.
During our stay, we had booked accommodations through airbnb.
The currency is obviously the euro.
CB is accepted just about everywhere.
Before you go
Do not forget to check that your passport or ID is still valid. No visa required.
There is no need for special vaccines.
For electrical outlets, they are identical to those in France.
It is very hot, especially in August. Don’t forget your sunglasses, sunscreen and hat, as well as a bottle of water